Alberta's new turn-off-the-taps law to be challenged by B.C. in Calgary court

A battle over the new turn-off-the-taps law in Alberta is set to move into a courtroom Friday as lawyers for British Columbia ask a Calgary judge to rule the legislation unconstitutional.

Bill 12, which was proclaimed into law April 30 at the UCP government’s first cabinet meeting, gives Alberta the power to cut off oil and gas exports to other provinces. 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has insisted the new law is only to be used as a last resort if the B.C. government continues to do “everything it can to block the [Trans Mountain pipeline] expansion.”

Within hours of proclaiming the legislation, lawyers for B.C. filed an injunction application and constitutional challenge in an attempt to block the new law.

The B.C government says in its statement of claim that the intention of Bill 12 is “to inflict economic pain on British Columbia by limiting the supply of petroleum products” which it says is in response to political or policy positions taken regarding the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

B.C. lawyers will argue the law is in violation of the constitution because it restricts trade across provincial boundaries.

Bill 12 requires exporters to obtain licences, and gives Alberta’s energy minister the power to decide how much fuel is exported, the mode by which it’s transported and whether direct shipments should be stopped altogether.

The bill is also known as the Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act and was originally passed under the previous NDP government but never enacted into law.

Earlier this month, the British Columbia government filed a second lawsuit in Federal court in case it’s found not to have standing in Alberta’s superior court.

A full day has been set aside for Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Hall to hear arguments from lawyers representing the two provinces’ attorneys general.

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